Speedway, F1 discussing race's return to Indianapolis

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials confirmed Monday morning that they want to host a Formula One race again and that they are in discussions to bring the series back to the city.

IMS’ position followed comments by F1 leader Bernie Ecclestone published in Sunday's Guardian newspaper in England. Ecclestone told the newspaper “we’d like to get back there,” referring to Indianapolis, possibly as soon as 2011.

IMS spokesman Chris Schwartz said he doubted a deal could be reached to host a race in 2011, but he didn’t dispute the track’s ongoing efforts to get on F1’s calendar.

“We continue to have dialogue with Formula One, and we’ve long maintained we’re interested in hosting their events,” he said. “2011 would be a long shot. Obviously, there’s a lot to consider.”

F1 left the city in 2007 on less-than-friendly terms after an eight-year run at the Speedway.

The famed Brickyard first hosted the U.S. Grand Prix in 2000 after former IMS President Tony George sank a reported $75 million into building the 2.6-mile road course and other infrastructure for the race.

In its inaugural year, the race drew more than 200,000 spectators and was thought to be profitable for the Speedway despite an arrangement that let F1 officials keep all the broadcast revenue.

Attendance began to decline in 2002, and the relationship between F1 and IMS officials began to sour when all but six cars pulled out of the 2005 race after the first lap due to tire difficulties.

Attendance for the 2007 race was an estimated 100,000—about half of what it was the first year.

The relationship between IMS and F1 became even more contentious in the final year when Ecclestone criticized Speedway officials for not marketing the event throughout the region.

Despite sagging attendance, city officials embraced the race because it created about $100 million annually in estimated visitor spending and because of the international exposure it offered. That loss was partly offset by the MotoGP motorcycle race, which began in fall 2008.

Ecclestone said Indianapolis had problems, but was probably the best place in the United States for F1.

“It’s only the fact that it’s all the wrong crowd and the wrong people … nothing worked there really, we’d have to have a big change round,” Ecclestone told the Guardian. “But we’d like to get back there.”

Schwartz at the IMS said he has no idea what Ecclestone meant by his comments, only speculating that corporate support might have fallen short of his expectations.

“I’m not sure what to make of that,” Schwartz said. “I can tell you that the crowds were energetic; they were certainly international.”

Discussions to bring F1 back to Indianapolis this time won’t include George. He stepped down last summer as chairman of both the Speedway and the Indy Racing League. George has been replaced by Jeff Belskus, the former IMS chief financial officer.

The Speedway’s efforts to bring F1 back have an ally in legendary driver Mario Andretti, the 1978 F1 champion and winner of the 1969 Indianapolis 500.

“I can’t write the check,” he told the Guardian. “All I can do is support it in every possible way that makes sense because I believe in it so much.”

"I was just talking to Bernie and he is well aware of that need (to return to the United States). He is pretty switched on, he's just got to figure out a way," added Andretti.

But Brazil’s Emerson Fittipaldi, a winner of two F1 titles as well as the Indianapolis 500, said the Speedway is not the right location to host a U.S. race.

“To go to Indianapolis was a big mistake,” he told the Guardian, noting the track layout on the oval circuit ran in the opposite direction of most races, making F1 cars look slow compared to their Indy counterparts.

F1 has 19 races on its schedule this year. The closest one to the United States is in Montreal. The series’ first race was Sunday in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Next year marks a historic milestone for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the running of the first Indianapolis 500, and several events are planned to highlight the occasion.



  • Bring it back!
    What a great venue to host an F1 event. I'd like to see it come back soon. 2011 would be good. I do agree with Bernie that Indianapolis doesn't really have much to offer otherwise. I would imagine there will be some additional amenities now that the city is prepping for the Stupid Bowl.
  • 24 Hours of Indianapolis
    Tell Bernie to take his pompous butt and elite fans down the road. He and his fans are not a good fit for the speedway. He has previously said that he doesn't need the United States. On a more positive note the IMS should sanction their own 24 Hours of Indianapolis. This way there would be no rights fee. Three classes like LeMans. Plus a class for Mustang/Camaro/Challenger. Drivers must be American citizens. Why do you think NASCAR is so big? Let the fun begin. The speedway offers horrible viewing on the front straight. Georgetown street needs to be closed and the stands replaced with modern stands in a halfmoon shape. Go to Bristol if you want to see what good viewing looks like. Obviously this can't happen until the recession is over.
  • USF1
    There is USF1 team in development in North Carolina
    you have no idea what you are talking about. putting down tony george when you have not got a clue. he has done a heck of lot at the track that people are not aware of, they judge him by what they have heard and read in the newspapers. he is a very smart man, i think his family got greedy and wanted him out. GOOD LUCK TONY!!!!!
  • after refueling ban is lifted
    Hope F1 holds off on coming back til refueling ban is lifted. People ,no matter what the national stripe, like some form of competition in their racing. Love the "G" of F1 but this weekends race needed some "racing". One car behind another for 49 laps is not time or money well spent. Maybe F1 will do a NASCAR and make a mid season change. You bring that product to the US market and good luck. Indy is not world class but what road race Mecca are you gonna find at Uncle Sam's. Daytona??!! Unless NYC has plans for a Monza on the Island, Indy will have to do for now. My F1 monkey needs his fix and I dont care where I get it.
  • Track and Team in Indy
    I have followed F1 over 40 years and traveled to many races in many cities that I would not label as world-class. INDY WAS NOT ONE OF THEM. Many venues are not easy to get around like Hungaroring & Estoril in the day. In Indy you have the track, though it might be better with a reconfigured layout that includes more of the oval, the ticket prices are the cheapest of any race. But a US F1 team is a must and would be better suited in INDY or England as homebase with an American Driver.
    • Blame it on Bernie!
      For the 2000 F1 Indianapolis GP, our company's marketer, Sports Strategists worked with Tony George and the Ferrari Club of America and Ferrari North America membership in commissioning our Sports Artist, WK Gilbert to create a fine art piece titled "Red Rider - Indy 2000" featuring World Champion F1 Ferrari driver, Michael Schumacher - who won the historic race and the F1 Championship that year -

      The painting,celebrating Ferrari's inaugural F1 USGP race at Indianapolis, was signed by Schumacher and auctioned at the FCA Charitable Banquet in the Indiana Ballroon during raceweek, raising $25,000 for three local charities - the Julian Center, Indianapolis Children's Bureau and Peyton Manning's Peyback Foundation -

      Besides the Banquet, Tony George and the FCA also put together an "on the road" Art Show that brought Gilbert, his paintings and the FCA membership to a welcome reception at the Eiteljorg Museum and a luncheon at the Indianapolis Athletic Club, where other Automotive Artists(some local)displayed their art along with the Club's own Vintage Automotive pieces as well -

      Because Tony George and Sports Strategists looked beyond the "Testosterone" arena,
      1,200 Ferrari Club attendees and the public experienced a fabulous race together with some great Arts and Culture jewels of Indianapolis -

      As for Bernie Ecclestone, he apparently single-handedly created the eventual downfall of F1 in Indianapolis by demanding in 2000 that all Press and Media info go through him first -

      So, for him to criticize Speedway Officials for not marketing the event throughout the region - I say "look in the mirror Bernie!"

      Back to the Future - F1 can be great for Indianapolis - look at pictures of the 1911 race - many European racecars and drivers - the people on the sidelines - ordinary folk who came to be part of the "thrill of it all" - and kept coming back for more -

    • Do The Math
      100,000 tickets would have to sell for $200 each just to cover Bernie's rights fee. I never paid that much for my F1 ticket...
    • Constructors Demand US Race
      100000 attendance, while small by American standards is large by F1 standards. They are putting soldiers in the stands in China! Other venues in destination cities are having problems selling tickets. The major carmakers still in F1 demands a race in the US. Indy has the facilities that can host a race immediately. Other possibile sites in in the States would require the multi-millions to get upp to F1 specs, thereby precluding them from consideration.
      • Hehehehee
        It's a strange world we live in. Bernie sez you all were rubes, Emmo sez you're rubes, the IRL stinks and is poor to the tune of $22 million a year. Things were looking so good back in 1993...and then the IRL doomsday clock started.

        Now you rubes are going to be forced to go to China and Brazil and Baltimore, and Alabama. Just to stay afloat. Quite contrary to the "saving American oval heritage" isn't it? Why is the IRL birthing the CART/CCWS again? How hypocritical of it all....
      • Not World Class
        This city is not a world class city and he knows it. The backwards politics in this state that refuses to place schools/education, mass transit, clean water/air, parks and other public services over the Colts and Taxpayer Oil Stadium does not attract corporations to Indianapolis like good public services would. Therefore, the job market here is terrible and you lack corporate sponsorship to host bigger events that attract people to your city.
        • The cars and stars
          Memorial Day weekend would be a great date. Death to the EARL.
        • Bernie isn't a racer
          Real car guys and racers (like the Ferrari guys) do respect Indy and its traditions. So do the international fans. But that's not what drives F1.

          Bernie and his elite crowd care about the money ($20million rights fee) and the high-end party, and Indy just ain't Monaco (or Montreal, or Sao Paolo, Singapore, Barcelona, Abu Dhabi, Budapest, or Melbourne...)
        • F1 Guys Liked Indy
          For what it is worth, last year in Beverly Hills I met two Ferrari F1 engineers and they LOVED coming to Indy, calling a "historic place". They had the respect all the Gomers demand. They even knew who Troy Ruttman was because we talked about the youngest winner of the "500." They knew that. But all the experts here, and HackForum, and the IRL's forum have it all "figgerd out" as they would say in the Hoosier State now don't they? MMMMMhmmmm, dad gum it. They done do. Now if they'd just pur them injuns back in front thar. Mmmm. Dadd gum it. Them F1 boys wouldn;t be so fruity, mmmmmmhmmmmmmhhmmm dad gum it.
          • Good...
            The city needs to step up and make itself more inviting to the F1 crowd. First off, how's about flattening Haughville and diverting Little Eagle Creek to create Lake Indianapolis. They could ferry spectators back and forth from downtown in fancy yachts and speed boats!
          • Gentlemen's Agreement
            Don't know if it still holds true, but dating back to Tony Hulman's day at the helm, he always had a "gentlemen's agreement" with the folks at Indianapolis (now O'Reilly) Raceway Park that IMS would not hold an event over Labor Day Weekend and overshadow the US Nationals - and IRP would offer the same courtesy over Memorial Day Weekend (the Night Before the 500 Midgets notwithstanding). Obviously, there have been many changes over the years so perhaps this "understanding" isn't observed any longer (and I have to agree - a 24-hour racing event and accompanying festival would be awesome - at any time!).
          • Ask yourself
            Ask yourself why F1 is talking to the Speedway again. Well, here i will spell it out for you. ONE they need the money. Indycar is in a deathspiral on REVersus and the checkbooks are tightening up. TWO Tony is gone. He couldn't even promote his own series (EARL) how would you expect him to promote something as detailed and complicated as F1? THREE You need to have some serious promotion and activation by sponsors. Remember the first couple USGPs at the Speedway? LOTS of sponsorship activity, and LOTS of cars on track, Porsche Cup, Ferrari Challenge, lets bring in other series as well (Mazda, Continental?) FOUR Bernie knows his sponsor want to be in this market. FIVE - USF1!!!! (OK, 4 outta 5 ain't bad, and Windsor and Anderson are blowhards anyway)

            Tony George couldn't market himself to his own family, how the hell was he going to effectively market F1 to the racing public!?

            bring it back. market it correctly. wave goodbye to the EARL Crapwagons.
            • Credit where credit is due
              Two points
              - Tony George may have made mistakes, but investing in F1 was not one of them. We have a world class facility, and IMS needs to put it back to work.
              - F1 is different today, and if USF1 could get its act together, a race in Indy in 2011 would be awesome.
              - Ya, Bernie can be a jerk, but he knows he needs a US market. Indy is the racing capital of the US (sorry Mr. France)and I bet the local business community has a whole new appreciation for those international dollars now that they've gone missing. Belskus needs a win and this is the right place to get it.

              And Thanks Mario ..... we love you man!

            • rib fest
              what about rib fest though....lol
            • What's Emerson Drinking?
              It appears Fittipaldi is drinking some bad orange juice, again. F1 had its choice of direction around the track, and I'm sure had a major role in road course design at IMS. Speed has nothing to do with dislike of IMS. The portion of the oval that is included in the road course allows â??overtakingâ??. Yes, thatâ??s right. There could be honest competition, which F1 cannot bear. Theyâ??ve legislated the racing out of their league.

              F1 is not a player in the U.S because race fans in this country like competitive races, which F1 is unable to supply. What is of interest to F1? Gambling and nationalism.

              The U.S. race fan does not have a history of gambling on races. Not saying it couldnâ??t be developed, but it is not there now. Isnâ??t watching cars go fast enough of a thrill? Perhaps not, if you canâ??t get close to it like in F1.

              F1 relies on a sense of nationalism, very similar to the Olympics, for drivers and constructors. This, too, is an alien concept in U.S. racing. Too many â??foreignâ?? drivers is one of the complaints of the IRL. One of NASCARâ??s strengths is its, â??good-ole-boysâ??. Massa, Alonso, Kimi and Schumi will never be â??good-ole-boysâ??. Webber, maybe.

              A F1 return to the U.S., which F1 needs to satisfy their global sponsors, is destined to fail. A US F1 race would need to be underwritten by a corporation with huge pockets. SAP lasted only a year at IMS. I can imagine only a few sponsors with the wherewithal to sponsor such an event long enough for it to catch hold. Coca-Cola would be one.

              F1 has great cars.. Too bad they wonâ??t let them race. I wonder what F1 could do on the IMS Oval?
            • Welcome Back
              I had the opportunity of working every F-1 race in the transportation end and met some wonderful people from all over the world. All of them enjoyed Indianapolis, I never heard anything negative from them only from people here. I grew up at IMS. These people explained the race to me which of course was very different from what we are used to and I learned to enjoy it too.
            • Big Change
              Good observation....maybe Bernie could start by keeping his arrogant butt OUT of Indy. I don't know about anyone else, but F1 ain't all that and a bucket of caviar & champaign.
            • Why not?
              Half of the problematic equation (Tony G) is gone, now we just need to do something with the self-important Bernie E. With new direction at IMS, it could work.

              Since we are talking IMS - I would love a Labor Day weekend 24 Hour World Sports car type endurance race. Close off 16th street and make it a venue for concerts, street performers and ao on and set up a giant ferris wheel on the (unused) backstretch, ala La Mans.

              Maybe even kick off the weekend with a 2 hour IRL race on the roadcourse.
              • Good
                I hope that F1 returns to IMS. It will be good to have real race cars there again.
              • Wrong People means

                Indy can't have F1 racing at the ridiculously low ticket prices charged by IMS (compared to other F1 venues), and the "beautiful people" of the world aren't interested in coming here. Wherever will they park their yachts and private jets?

                Bernie would rather have supermodels and "international football" (soccer) stars and the moneyed and titled European class than the biggest crowds ever seen anywhere on the circuit. It's all about his idea of "quality".

              Post a comment to this story

              COMMENTS POLICY
              We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
              You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
              Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
              No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
              We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

              Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

              Sponsored by

              facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

              Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
              Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
              Subscribe to IBJ
              1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

              2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

              3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

              4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

              5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.